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Climate cheers as G7 signals game over for fossil fuels

game over for fossil fuels

Creative Commons: European External Action Service, 2015

G7 leaders have sent a clear signal that the world is moving away from fossil fuels and towards a future powered by renewable energy.

Green groups, investors and businesses alike heralded the announcement as a positive attempt by these leaders to “shift the pattern of climate politics” ahead of important UN climate talks in Paris this December.

Green NGOs praised the commitment as “another signal that the end of the fossil fuel era is inevitable”.

Christoph Bals, Policy Director, Germanwatch said:

The G7 today placed the end of the fossil fuel era firmly on the agenda of global politics. All G7 countries have committed themselves to a low-carbon transition, and to support the deployment of renewable energies in developing countries. The G7 summit herewith sends a strong signal for a successful climate deal in Paris at the end of this year.

Meanwhile businesses say the communique represents the “signal urgently needed to catalyze climate action.”

Nigel Topping, CEO of We Mean Business said:

G7 Leaders have told businesses and investors that the decarbonization of the global economy will occur this century.  This is the signal we urgently need to catalyze climate action. Now both governments and businesses have a crucial job to do.  We commit to working with G7 governments to achieve a low-carbon, climate-resilient global economy this century by scaling up our climate action. In turn, governments must complete a global climate agreement this December in Paris which amplifies this transformation.

The G7 leaders called for a global decarbonisation during the course of the century, committed to an international greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 40 to 70 per cent by 2050, and pledged to decarbonise their own energy sectors by the middle of the century.

The announcement shows that the world’s largest economies do not see a future for fossil fuels, and puts in question any new investments in dirty energy like coal power that might end up as stranded assets sooner rather than later.

As for the impacts of climate change that can’t be avoided, governments agreed to protect and insure the poorest and most vulnerable people.

They also pledged to accelerate renewable energy access in Africa, and recommitted to the $100 billion a year in climate finance needed by 2020 to support developing nations in their domestic efforts to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies.

Today’s communique adds support to calls for binding rules to underpin the new universal agreement, and regular rounds of increasing ambition over time.

Such commitments are likely to help build trust among countries and open up vital space for progress on these issues as the UN climate talks continue throughout the year.

 

Nick Maybe, CEO of E3G said:

G7 leaders are clearly hoping to shift the pattern of climate politics, where they have been on the back foot. By agreeing to decarbonise the global economy inside a strong system of rules they have set a benchmark for emerging economies such as China to match. The commitment to meeting financial pledges and providing insurance to the most climate vulnerable countries also aims to build bridges with poorer countries.

Today’s move by the G7 raises the bar and puts pressure on them to deliver, by turning these broad brushstrokes into real action and aligning their near-term decisions with their long-term goals.

“The course is right, but more speed, ambition and specific actions are needed,” said Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative.

 

NGOs have warned that “setting the targets without scaling up their own national commitments will not cut it”, and urged leaders to “step up to the plate” ahead of Paris and to “get out of fossil fuels as soon as possible and shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency”.

Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy, Union of Concerned Scientists said:

The G7 leaders today declared that the global economy must be decarbonised this century if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. This is yet another signal that the end of the fossil fuel era is inevitable, and the dawning of the age of renewables is unstoppable. Now G7 countries must increase the ambition of their domestic climate plans, so as to do their fair share of meeting this global goal.

 

If these leaders follow through, they can speed up the ongoing transition from dirty fossils to clean renewables, which citizens, scientists, businesses, and investors around the world are demanding and driving.

Local and regional governments are already leading the way, and new polling data from the International Trade Union Confederation shows that nine out of ten people globally want their elected leaders to do more to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

All eyes will now be on the G7 governments to live up to today’s commitment, and to help lead the ongoing UN climate negotiations in Bonn to a successful outcome that builds the foundation for a strong global climate agreement in Paris in December.

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